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The sudden departure from Peking onune of the chief Soviet negotiator. DeputyMinister Kuznetsov, has raised some question about the future status of the deadlocked Sino-Soviet border negotiations. To avoideliberate attempt to disrupt the negotiations, the Soviets say Kuznetsov departed because of illness and that Chinese doctors were consulted before he left. Nevertheless, there has been no specific indication that Moscow plans to send Kuznetsov back to Peking. One Sovietwould say only that the negotiator's illness was relatively minor and that he would be "back to work soon."
At the time of Kuznelsov's departure from Peking, Soviet sources also began insinuating that the Chinese had finally granted agrement to-designate Vladimiroviet official subsequently has said that there has been only "some development" regarding theThere has. moreover, been no confiimation of Stepakov's alleged accreditation from the Chinese. They have heretofore refused to accept himprimarilybecausethoy fear Moscow would use his appointment to downgrade the negotiations to the ambassadorial level.
Although the top Soviet leaders haveed that "no apprccable progress" das been made in the negotiations, they havo good reason for wanting the diplomatic dialogue to continue at some level. They must find some satisfaction in the absence of major border clashes since the talks got under way and they may retain some hope that protracted negotiations may leadimited accord on the border. In addition, the Soviets want to maintain the appearance of stability in their relations with China thai the negotiating process itself tends to foster. Moscow's apprchensiveness that the appearance of preoccupation with its "China problem" will weaken its position elsewhere was recentlyby Politburo member Poiyansky. whoestern visitor that attempts by "others" to take advantage of strained Sino-Soviet relations would be "severely rebuffed."
For its part. Peking also values continuing the discussions, botheans tolose reading of Moscow's intentions toward China andossible deterrent against Soviet military pressure along the border. Nevertheless, the Chinese have been unwilling to pursue theduring Kuznetsov's past absences, and may be reluctant to reconvene the sessions unless he returns or is replaced by an equally prominent envoy. |
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